(As we head into 2015 CityWatch has asked some of the city’s political observers to list LA’s Top Five Issues. We will post their responses here over the next few weeks. We invite you to submit your own Top Five LA Issues and/or tell us how you feel about their responses, below.)
1.) The City's General Plan is totally out-of-date, internally inconsistent, and barely monitored.
2.) LA and California needs a carefully developed Climate Change Plan, with a full spectrum of mitigation and adaptation programs.
3.) LA needs a coherent Infrastructure Program that will carefully monitor, maintain, and expand to meet changes in user demand.
4.) LA’s Economy continues in rough shape, and City Hall's remedy is little more than the deregulation of zoning rules.
5.) LA must prepare immediately for a Massive Earthquake.
(Dick Platkin is a former city planner. He teaches, writes, and consults on community planning issues in Los Angeles.)
(A more detailed version of Dick’s Picks >>>)
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-Email your Top Five LA Issues or comments to Editor@CityWatchLA.com.
LA’s Top Five Issues
1) The City's General Plan should guide all aspects of governance, including budgeting, but it is totally out-of-date, internally inconsistent, and barely monitored. It needs to be quickly and completely updated, which is no small task. Then, it needs to be rigorously monitored and also used to guide plan amendments, the City's annual budgeting process, and the five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
2) Climate change is quickly bearing down on California, including Los Angeles, and there needs to be a carefully developed Climate Change Plan, with a full spectrum of mitigation and adaptation programs. The State of California has a wealth of legislation, data, and precedents to guide this process, and it should be folded into the updated General Plan as a discretionary element.
3) Most of the City's public infrastructure is in poor shape, and there is no coherent program to carefully monitor, maintain, and expand it to meet changes in user demand. Among the most important but deficient infrastructure categories are water lines, streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and the urban forest, all of which would also contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation if done correctly.
4) The local economy continues to be in rough shape, and City Hall's remedy is little more than the deregulation of zoning rules. This is neo-liberalism at the municipal level, and there is no evidence that its result, real estate speculation, has a positive economic benefit for most LA residents. True, investors, most of whom do not live in LA, are making a bundle, but little of their pirate's booty trickles down to the city's residents in the form of improved public services or rising employment and wage levels. Instead, Los Angeles needs a well-researched Economic and Employment Development Element for its General Plan. Furthermore, this Element needs to focus on the broad, long-term benefits of public investment instead of private speculation.
5) It is only a question of time until a massive earthquake strikes the Los Angeles area, and when it does, the number of deaths is predicted to soar into ten of thousands, depending on the time and strength of the quake and its aftershocks. It is, therefore, imperative, that the City undertakes a crash campaign to map all known earthquake faults and to amend plans and zoning regulations to prevent new structure above faults and in other seismically dangerous areas. Furthermore, at-risk buildings must be reinforced by a combination of municipal ordinances, financing, and technical assistance programs. Finally, the first responders, especially the LAFD and LADBS inspectors, need to be fully staffed and trained, for this predictable natural disaster before it happens.
(Dick Platkin is a former city planner. He teaches, writes, and consults on community planning issues
in Los Angeles.)